Can I Catch Lyme Disease From My Dog
Dogs are not a direct source of infection for people. Lyme disease cant be transmitted from one pet to another, nor from pets to humans, except through tick bites. However, a carrier tick could come into your house on your dogs fur and get on you.
If your dog is diagnosed with Lyme disease, you and any other pets have probably been in the same outdoor environment and may also be at risk, so it is a good idea to consult with your physician and veterinarian to see whether you should test other pets or family members.
How Can You Prevent A Dog From Becoming Infected With Lyme Disease
The best method of preventing Lyme disease is to avoid tick-infested areas, especially in the spring when the young ticks are most active.
When returning from a tick-infested area, do a thorough search for ticks on yourself and your animals. Ticks should be removed carefully with tweezers, pinching the tick near the point they enter the skin.
There are also many highly effective veterinary products that will kill ticks on your dog before they can transmit the bacteria. Early removal of ticks reduces the chance of transmission.
A vaccine has been approved for use in dogs for Lyme disease prevention, but most authors of veterinary articles on Lyme disease do not recommend vaccinating dogs in non-endemic areas. Not all authors agree on how effective the vaccine is in preventing Lyme disease or whether it should be given in endemic regions. For more information about tick control products or Lyme disease, consult your veterinarian.
What Causes Lyme Disease In Dogs
Dogs contract Lyme disease through the bite of infected ticks. These ticks contain the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is a type of organism known as a spirochete.
There are at least four species of ticks in the world known to carry Lyme disease:
In the United States, the most common source of transmission is the Deer Tick or Black-Legged Tick, scientifically known as Ixodes pacificus on the West Coast and Ixodes scapularis on the East Coast. In Europe, the Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes persulcatus ticks carry Lyme disease.
These ticks are tiny, which can make them hard to see or feel on your dog, and all stages of the tick can carry and spread the disease, although adult ticks tend to be the most infectious. It typically takes 24 to 48 hours after attaching to a host for the tick to spread the Lyme-causing bacteria, although transmission of disease can sometimes occur much more rapidly.
Certain areas are more prone to ticks than others. Wooded or grassy areas and areas with large tick populations pose the highest risk of infection. Ticks tend to be most active in the spring and fall when they are actively seeking hosts, which increases the risk of Lyme transmission. However, recent evidence indicates that ticks are also active in winter, as long as the temperature is above freezing.
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What Is Lyme Disease How Do Dogs Catch It
Lyme disease is transmitted via ticks, most commonly a type of tick known as the deer tick. But it is not the tick itself that is responsible. A tick will become infected with offending bacteria from the Borrelia bugdoferi group when it feeds on infected mice or other rodents and then transmits the bacteria to an animal such as a dog when it bites the host in order to take blood for nourishment. Out comes the blood from the dog and into the ticks body and, in the process, in go the bacteria from tick to your pet.
Infection takes place anywhere from 18 to 36 hours after the tick attaches itself to the dog. But that doesnt mean the dog becomes ill right away. In fact, if your pet is going to show any signs of illness and remember, most pets dont its going to take some two to five months.
What Is The Prognosis Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Like other dog health issues, there are a few factors that determine your pets prognosis. The prognosis depends on the time of detection of the disease, Dr. Muller says. In the case of early treatment without manifest symptoms, the prognosis is good. However, if clinical symptoms are already present that have caused damage to the kidneys, heart, and nervous system, then the prognosis is poor.
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Lyme Affects Some Breeds Worse Than Others
There are a couple of notable exceptions to that rule: Labradors and golden retrievers.
There is a deadly manifestation of Lyme disease in dogs, called Lyme nephritis. It’s a fatal side effect that causes the animal’s kidney to fail, and researchers have a strong suspicion that labs and golden retrievers are predisposed. And because of this, both vets we spoke to agreed that any dogs of these two breeds who test positive for Lyme should be treated with Doxycycline immediately.
How To Diagnose Lyme Disease In Dogs
Diagnosis of Lyme disease can be done by your veterinarian taking a complete history of the dog and by running some basic blood work. History would indicate physical symptoms and possibly exposure to a tick bite, if it were in fact noticed.
However, simple diagnosis isnt as easy as it sounds and veterinarians are aware that the results aren’t always accurate. The two most popular types of tests for Lyme disease are:
There are other tests that may be performed if needed, such as complete blood cell count test, biochemistry test, synovial fluid cytology and culture testing.
The problem with all of these Lyme disease tests is that false negative results can occur in dogs who are suffering from Lyme. Veterinarians know this and often use medical history and other resources for a 5-factor table to draw a more accurate conclusion.
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Diagnosing Lyme Disease In Dogs
In order to properly diagnose Lyme disease, vets will perform two types of blood tests that can indicate whether or not your dog is infected.
The antibody test will detect the presence of not just bacterium, but also specific antibodies that are formed in the dogs body in reaction of the bacterium. If the test comes back positive, then your dog has in fact been exposed to the bacterium. There is a possibility of it coming back as a false positive, though. This occurs when the dog doesnt have a high enough level of antibodies in their system. Therefore, the test is unable to pick up on them.
Another test that vets conduct is a polymerase chain reaction test, a specific DNA test that confirms the presence of the disease-causing bacteria. Unlike the first test, this test looks directly for the presence of disease-causing bacteria rather than just looking for antibodies.
Can My Animal Get Infected Despite Being Vaccinated
Yes. Some animals have been infected despite vaccination. The most common reasons are low or short-lasting vaccine antibodies in the individual animal. It is advisable to monitor the vaccine response annually to ensure the animal develops sufficient antibodies in response to vaccination. Vaccine antibodies can be quantified with the Lyme Multiplex assay as early as two weeks following vaccination or anytime afterwards.
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Know The Signs Of Lyme
Unfortunately, Lyme disease is a fairly common illness in canines. Symptoms may come and go and can vary from mild to severe. They often mimic other conditions. In severe cases, dogs may also develop heart disease, central nervous system disorders, or kidney disease.
Here are a few of the most common signs to watch out for:
What Should I Do If I Find Ticks On My Dog
Removing the ticks within 24-36 hours will usually prevent infection. Using tweezers, grasp the head as close to your pets skin as possible and pull straight out. Wash the area with soap and water, disinfectant with alcohol or hand sanitizer.
If possible, save the tick in a Ziploc bag and record the approximate date of the bite. If symptoms develop, contact our team at the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic.
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What Are The Clinical Signs Of Lyme Disease
Some people with Lyme disease develop a characteristic bull’s-eye rash at the site of the bite within three to thirty days. If this occurs, the disease can be easily diagnosed at an early stage.
However, signs of Lyme disease are more difficult to detect in animals than in people. The characteristic rash does not develop in dogs or cats. In fact, Lyme disease is practically unheard of in cats.
“Affected dogs have been described as if they were walking on eggshells.”
Many dogs affected with Lyme disease are taken to a veterinarian because they seem to be experiencing generalized pain and have stopped eating. Affected dogs have been described as if they were walking on eggshells. Often these pets have high fevers. Dogs may also begin limping. This painful lameness often appears suddenly and may shift from one leg to another. If untreated, it may eventually disappear, only to recur weeks or months later.
Some pets are infected with the Lyme disease organism for over a year before they finally show symptoms. By this time, the disease may be widespread throughout the body. Non-specific signs which may indicate that Lyme disease is affecting the kidneys include vomiting, lethargy, anorexia , and weight loss. The kidney form of the disease is less common, but often fatal.
What Exactly Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease, or Borreliosis, is a very infectious disease in dogs that comes from exposure to ticks. It has many dominant symptoms that you can quickly notice in your dog, mainly lameness in the joins. Its one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases, but despite that, it still only causes symptoms in 5-10% of affected dogs. The ticks get into the dogs bloodstream through a bite and once in the bloodstream, the bacteria travels to different parts of the body and cause stiffness in specific joints and overall illnesses.
When a dog has Lyme disease, it suffers from inflammation in the joints, which means recurring lameness. This is a horrible sensation for dogs to feel and alongside it, they can also suffer from loss of appetite and depression, just to name a few. You dont want your furry friends to suffer from Lyme disease since its a very uncomfortable disease that can escalate into something fast, so its good to spot any red flags as early as possible.
When not detected on time, complications can arise from Lyme disease such as kidney problems, heart diseases, and nervous system failures. These are very rare but Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Shetland Sheepdogs, or Bernese Mountain Dogs are unfortunately more at risk for kidney-related problems caused by Lyme disease.
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What Happens If Lyme Disease Goes Untreated
Treating Lyme disease in a timely manner is absolutely crucial to your dogs health, otherwise its complications can cause even more severe problems. Dr Muller further warns, Lyme disease can lead to serious damage of the heart, nervous system, and kidneys.
Dogs who are not treated for Lyme disease may find themselves with any of the following conditions:
- Inflammation of the kidneys, and in severe cases, kidney failure. Symptoms of this kidney failure include increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling of extremities, and lack of appetite. This can be fatal.
- Chronic pain from arthritis
- Heart problems
- Seizure disorders or facial paralysis as a result of damage to the nervous system
Many of these issues, if left untreated, can be potentially fatal, so the answer is clear. If your dog is diagnosed with Lyme disease, take care of it as soon as you possibly can.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Lyme Disease Or Other Tick
Recommendations on preventing ticks include these from AKCs Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein:
- Inspect your dogs and yourself daily for ticks after walks through the woods or grassy settings. On dogs, look especially on the feet , on lips, around eyes, ears , near the anus, and under the tail.
- Remove ticks stat. The quicker you find them the less likely your dog will contract a secondary illness related to tick bites. Learn the proper method of tick removal. Invest in a pair of fine tweezers used for this purpose. If you are unable to do so, consult with a veterinarian.
- Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam. Theyll be able to find any you may have missed.
- Prevent ticks from jumping on your dog with one of the many veterinary-approved flea and tick preparations available on the market. Speak to your veterinarian to find the best and most appropriate product for your dog.
- Keep grass mowed as short as possible. Refrain from walking into grassy patches in endemic tick areas if you can.
- Get your dog vaccinated. Vaccination could prevent your dog from getting Lyme disease. They may not be appropriate for some dogs, so discuss with your vet.
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How Is Canine Lyme Disease Treated And Prevented
Because Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics, once an animal has been examined and tested positive. The antibiotic of choice for canines is doxycycline. Treatment lasts for up to 4 weeks.
The Cabbagetown Pet Clinic offers a comprehensive Cabbagetown Care Program, which includes a canine Lyme vaccination. This is the only way to assure dogs in endemic and expansion areas, such as Toronto, are protected.
Anorexia And Digestive Tract Upset
Lyme disease causes anorexia, which can manifest as a decreased appetite to the degree that substantially less food is consumed, or all meals or treats may be completely refused.
Anorexia can be caused by hyperthermia , arthritis , myalgia , renal failure, or other ailments associated with infection by Borrelia burgdorferi.
Besides eating less or refusing food, dogs infected with Lyme disease can have other digestive tract upset such as emesis or diarrhea related to hyperthermia, renal failure, or other health problems.
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How Do Dogs Get Lyme Disease
Like humans, dogs can contract Lyme disease from ticks, specifically the deer tick, which carry the bacteria that causes the disease. The American Kennel Club notes that the ticks most likely to carry Lyme disease are typically found in forests and woods , marshes, tall grass, and areas with thick brush. In terms of geographical locations, ticks carrying Lyme have been expanding their reach across the United States in recent years, but are most prevalent in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and Pacific Northwest regions.
Dr. Sarah Wooten, veterinarian and American Society of Veterinary Journalists member, tells Pumpkin, When your dog spends time in the woods, marshes, grass, or bushy areas without adequate tick protection on board, these monstrous little bugs can latch on and bite. Those bites can transmit bacteria into your dogs bloodstream that cause Lyme disease, and thats when we have a real problem.
Prevention Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Tick control and vaccination are two options for the prevention of Lyme disease infection in dogs. Vaccinations against Lyme disease can be administered at twelve weeks of age your puppy will require two shots, three weeks apart, followed by yearly boosters.
Some veterinarians are skeptical of Lyme disease vaccines. However, a tick control program, such as a once-monthly topical medication, is very effective in the prevention of Lyme disease.
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What Are Some Potential Health Complications Of Untreated Canine Lyme Disease
Untreated Lyme disease in dogs can lead to health complications in your pets critical organs, including permanent damage to your pets kidneys, heart or nervous system. According to veterinary experts, kidney damage is the most common complication of untreated Lyme disease and is often fatal for dogs suffering from this complication.
In some cases, dogs may also experience nervous system disorders such as seizures or facial paralysis. The severity of these complications can vary and may not be life-threatening but could affect your pets quality of life.